THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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June 2009

How not to handle an angry electorate » Blog Archive » Who’ll get the blame for the expenses blackout?.

If our politicians truly understood what they have done, in an ethical or even a political sense, they would never have made such a hash of yesterday.  Of course, many of the worse offenders have nothing to lose now (unless by some miracle, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service do their jobs as no-one, tellingly, expects). The massed ranks of doomed Labour backbenchers might as well loot the Palace of Westminster before they leave it. Their careers are over and they will command no more respect in the ethically-barren society their benefits culture has engendered if they don't. As Political Betting points out:

...everything in the expenses story goes back to July 3 last year when 172 MPs, 146 of them Labour ones, voted to block reforms...

I have some small sympathy with honest Labour MPs. Some Conservative and LibDem members (not to mention the Sinn Fein ones) behaved just as badly as Labour's worst. But Labour was ostentatiously in control throughout, claiming the right to intrude into the minutiae of our lives and to wag the finger of righteousness in our faces. The fact is that the Parliamentary Labour Party's (and the iconically Labour Speaker's) response to this issue was to intimidate and smear honest people seeking the truth and then to cover up. This alone contradicts the tedious daily lie that "I thought it was within the rules/acceptable/approved by the Fees Office." If they did not know they were behaving badly, they would never have tried to conceal it.

For many voters today, Labour's attitude is symbolised by one trivial receipt submitted (and "redacted") by Dr Phyllis Starkey MP (h/t Dizzy);


As a rule of thumb, I never trust anyone in the English-speaking world who mentions their (non-medical) doctorate outside an academic context. They are usually on the make and/or trying to command a respect they know they don't deserve. Dr Starkey has demonstrated that she has neither ethics, political judgement nor a sense of humour. Yes, it's funny, but she can't have known that or she would have realised it would be picked up on for that reason.

This latest fiasco will inflame voters further, given today's headlines. As the scandal happened on its watch, Labour will get the blame. After all, did Labour in Opposition hesitate to trash honest John Major for comparitively minor "sleaze" of which he knew (and could have been expected to know) nothing? Of course not. Blair, Brown and Prescott gleefully made political hay. Those who live by the sword shall perish by it.

Big Bang, or damp squib?

UK Parliament - Allowances by MP.

I took a few moments to examine the claims of the MP for my "home town" in England. As a long-time expatriate, I lost my vote in the UK before I ever bought a house there, so she's not technically my MP. She's the nearest thing though and I have long known she is a waste of her wear on the green leather in the Commons. From this useful website, I can see she has only ever spoken to ask fawning questions of ministers, presumably planted by the whips. Each seems to have been rewarded with a ministerial word of praise or constituency visit, so she even had to be bribed for that. Perhaps she's just shy.

So many details of her expenses are blanked out that, if this is typical, there would have been no scandal without the leaks to the Daily Telegraph. She pays someone for secretarial services, but the name is blanked. It could be her husband, it could be her dog. She claims small amounts each month for "incidentals", which could be porn movies or pens. She seems to have a very healthy appetite, but there's really no way of telling if she is honest or not. describes this as "big bang" day for the expenses issue. They must be joking. Perhaps some MPs have been less liberal with the black masking, but if "mine" is anything to go by, this squib is decidedly moist. If it were not for the Daily Telegraph's chequebook journalism, it seems clear that we would never have discovered how many of our legislators are ethical degenerates and, in some cases, petty criminals. There would have been no resignations, no early retirements from politics. More even than to the Daily Telegraph, we owe all that to MPs' dilatoriness in preparing their expenses for publication. Had they complied in even this half-arsed way a lot sooner, the issue would have died.  If there is justice in the world, it seems that sloth is a more deadly sin than cupidity.

If  "my" MP is typical, all we will learn from comparing the official with the unofficial disclosure is just how careful they are to keep us in the dark - and just how aware they are of the sensitivity of the claims they pretend they thought proper. Do take a look at your MPs claims though. Perhaps you will learn more than I did.

Virtually the best place for Libertarians to meet?

The Libertarian Party of the UK now has about 25 members in Second Life. Other LPUK members and supporters can of course easily visit Second Life by downloading the free client software and signing up for a free account. There's no need to spend money there at all and a half-decent graphics card will cope with the load.

If I were to host a meeting/party/fundraiser in Second Life, which of these places (mostly) on my virtual estates would be the best and why (click on the pictures to enlarge, if you like)?  Be careful. Your answer may be as psychologically revealing as the less whimsical of you no doubt think the question is.

Castle Nanga_002
Drawing Room, Castle Nanga

Castle Nanga_003
Dining Room, Castle Nanga

Castle Nanga_005

Castle Nanga_007
Schroedinger's Cats night club

Castle Nanga_010
Bar, Airship "Limoncello"

Castle Nanga_011
Officers' Mess, USS "Colin Campbell"

Castle Nanga_012
LPUK SL Offices

Castle Nanga_013
Tom Baker Square (an open area inside a Tardis)

Murdoch's despicable rag serves the state again

Ruling on NightJack author Richard Horton kills blogger anonymity - Times Online.

Though regularly and willingly used as puppets of ministers who lie and smear off the record through protected anonymous sources "close to" them (such as Damian McBride) The Times has fought blogger Nightjack in the High Court to win the right to publish his name and picture. This, despite his understandable wish to remain anonymous. His force has now disciplined him and his Orwell Prize-winning blog has been taken down. A great loss.

Nightjack was a superb blogger. He wrote well and with passion about his subject. He cared about his job and about the public he serves. The press is there to question and hold authority to account, not to deliver the state its victims. Though I don't question the judge's legal analysis, I do believe that Nightjack is far more of a credit to the police force than The Times is to the press. It might have the legal right to "out" him, but it should have had the decency not to.

Mostly harmless

Angela Rippon: I should be host of Top Gear - Telegraph.

Angela Rippon is a harmless "old bird" (her phrase, not mine, I would never have dared). But she believes in a disgusting modern fallacy, which is the very antithesis of fairness. A fallacy notably promoted by the woman who is fairness's worst enemy in Britain (because she wants to replace it with a system of corrupt quotas) - Harriet Harman. I defer to no-one in my feminism. My offspring are both female and anyone who tries to place improper obstacles in their career path should beware. Beware of them, mainly, formidable as the Misses Paine both are, but also of their aged father, should he be in range to contribute a helpful punch or sly trip.

It was sound feminist advocacy that opened Miss Paine the Elder's ancient college to women less than 30 years ago. It would not be feminism for her to have been admitted to fill a quota of women or marked more leniently than male students in her final exams (results due this week). If her status as a scholar (effectively a co-owner appointed on academic merit) were even partly due to her sex, she would be justifiably furious. No decent feminist should want my daughters or theirs insulted with quota opportunities. We feminists should want them to soar as far as their talents take them and no further. After all, we surely wouldn't want them as miserable as others whose ambition has outreached their abilities?

If men and women are truly equal before the law, then a woman can provide goods and services to a man just as well as to a woman and vice versa. The common idea (as indirectly expressed in "women and ethnic minorities are under-represented in Parliament") that only a black person can properly represent the interests of black people or that only a woman can properly represent women is every bit as offensive as Nick Griffin's similar ideas about other groups. In fact, damn it, they are not similar ideas. They are the very same.

Ms Rippon, national treasure though she may be, is a minor - if rather laughable - fascist. So is Harriet Harman. So is most of the British Left. And all without smart uniforms, punctual trains or adequate motorways by way of mitigation for their sins.

The left/liberal/Green obsession with interfering with Top Gear is instructive in so many ways. A business which has a successful product should be trying to understand its appeal, not destroy it. Top Gear makes so much money for the BBC that the corporation can't bring itself to cancel it, yet it cannot conceal its hatred for its successful child. Likewise the Government, though the programme represents one of few (can you think of any other?) profitable products of the British public sector. Pace Gauleiter Rippon, the viewing figures show that it appeals to women already. The women in my family love it, not because (sadly) they care about cars, but because (as one of them explained to me) "...there is nothing sexier than the sight of men [particularly the Hamster, apparently] enjoying being men..."

This makes sense to me. There is nothing sexier than the sight of women enjoying being women, which is nicely symmetrical. Even fair, if you like. So get lost Harriet. You too, Angela. If you want a job, drop the disgusting and dishonest special pleading and go explain to the producers why you would make the product even more successful. Or go pitch a better motoring show to a rival channel. Maybe you have what it takes, Angela, but I strongly suggest it is not where you are looking for it.

The real Robin Hood

The Devil's Kitchen: An anniversary

For almost 800 years Magna Carta has been cited in arguments between free men. The ideas which make us who we are (and by us, I don't just mean the English, but the whole English-speaking world) began on the day King John, notorious from the Robin Hood legend, reluctantly signed.

DK is right to celebrate the anniversary, but makes the common mistake of saying that the Great Charter established the Great Writ, habeas corpus. In fact, it makes no mention of it. Blackstone cites the first recorded use of the Great Writ in 1305, but similar writs were issued earlier. Habeas corpus is a keystone of our freedoms, but Magna Carta did not set it in its place.

For me, Article 39 of Magna Carta is the most important;

(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

This established an Englishman's right to "trial by his peers." For a commoner, this meant trial by jury, which has done more to keep us free than any other invention of our fertile civilisation. When it has gone, and we may be apprehended, charged and judged by paid employees of the state, English civilisation will have ended. Every man, however sophisticated his argument, who proposes a limitation of jury trial is King John's spiritual heir and therefore your enemy.

You may see Magna Carta online here and (significantly) here, where it is described as part of the "ancestry" of the US Constitution. You may read an English translation (the original was of course in Latin) here. You will relish such articles as

(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

but you will be disappointed by most of the others. Much of the document deals with the banal interests of the barons who forced King John to Runnymede long ago. Some of the language (for example about the Jews) is offensive to modern ears. That's why it is vital to understand that it is not what this document says that matters. It is what it did. For the first time in history, it limited the power of the state. It ended the rule of men and began the rule of law.

King John's subjects, even most of his barons, believed him God's choice of ruler. Yet Magna Carta set boundaries to his power. Few have read its words (and most would be disappointed by them) but that is why Englishmen cite the Great Charter whenever they feel threatened. That is why any man who does not revere it is no Englishman at all. The legend of the Great Charter is more important than the fact. It is the Robin Hood of legal history, while the state is - perennially - the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Magna Carta remains a great litmus test. Modern enemies of freedom have this in common with King John; they believe in the essential benevolence of the state and feel no need for it to be limited. Like him, they will be restrained only by force. Like him, they are keen to weaken any power but state power. Now, as then, the enemies of freedom may be detected by their desire to seize or imprison men without the lawful judgement of their peers. They may be detected by their desire to limit or abolish jury trial.

Almost 800 years after it was signed, it is vital that Englishmen who wish to remain free understand not what the Great Charter says, but why it matters. England will be England only for so long as they do.

Why there are still mugs to vote Labour

Gordon Brown: David Cameron's cuts will make the recession worse -

From time to time switched-on bloggers express incredulity that there are still millions prepared to vote Labour despite the dog's dinner it has made of, well, everything. I grew up among those millions and think I know why. Click through to the linked article in the Sunday Mirror for an example of how Labour manipulates these poor fools (bearing in mind that for many Labour voters in the heartlands The Mirror and, perhaps, the BBC are their habitual sources of political "news").

Gordon Brown has found a simple story to tell; one that will resonate with such voters. It's not true, but that doesn't bother him. The man is making political omelettes and will shed no tears over the breaking of ethical eggs. While even the panellists on such mainstream shows as Have I Got News for You are now openly laughing at him, he is targeting not even the viewers of such light entertainment, but the nation's idiots (each of whom has just the same vote as you or me). Forget your intellectual pretensions. Forget your sense of shame that your IP address may be recorded at such an embarrassing location. Click through to The Sunday Mirror site and marvel at the contempt in which this man holds the British people. Then worry that they might be worthy of it.

A Conservative analysed Labour's spending plans (by adjusting them for inflation and how much would go on servicing our massively increased debts) as a 10% cut in real expenditure on public services. Brown (or, more likely, Mandelson) heard the words "Conservative", "cuts" and "10%" and stitched them together into the standard Labour electoral message. Now they have their minions repeating it everywhere, and Brown has chosen the Mirror, the grand old propaganda organ of that great Socialist Captain Bob, to sound his own clarion.

Never mind that the Conservatives have so far said nothing except (foolishly, in my view) that spending on the NHS and foreign aid will be protected under their spending plans. Never mind that the Conservatives are in no position to say how hard they will have to cut everything else until they know how long Labour is able to pursue its present scorched earth policy. Never mind that it will have to be a damn sight more than 10% in real terms, even if Labour (Heaven forfend) were re-elected.

Every word of Brown's article is politically dishonest. We are now led (if garnering our cash while cowering in fear of our eventual wrath can be characterised as "leading") by moral degenerates clothed scantily in the tatters of their always-flimsy democratic mandate. The only interesting question now is whether Brown of the Broken Moral Compass is their master or their puppet.

Perhaps his judgement is not totally flawed...

Flint reveals why she resigned from Brown cabinet |

You have to smile sometimes. Politicians hold two inconsistent thoughts in their heads so often that they don't notice when they express them both at once;

Ms Flint quit as Europe minister last week, accusing Gordon Brown of using his women ministers as "female window dressing" and of running a "two-tier" government.

The MP for Don Valley told GMTV: "The reason I resigned was because I did not feel that the Prime Minster had full confidence in my loyalty."

He wasn't far wrong, was he?